Jan 31, 2012

Mythological world of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Did Adže: belief in this mythological being is characteristic for the south-western part of Bosnia, in Cazin-Velika Kladuša to be more exact, where it is believed that he is a dwarf with a long white beard and black feet who rides a large white rooster. His name stems from the Bogomil name for priests- Did. According to the above mentioned it is clear that this creature is a Bogomil priest from the south-western parts of Bosnia whose name stuck through legends in Bosnia. Did Adže presents a mystical character who was used to scare children into submission. Although in legends Did Adže possesses powers of teleporting, he is the keeper of wisdom and an entrance in the underworld.

Jan 30, 2012

Srebrenica - NEVER FORGET !!!!

In the Srebrenica massacre, 8,000 were slaughtered – but after a terrifying 70-mile march under heavy fire, 3,500 Bosniaks, including a Kent taxi driver, escaped to safety...

The funeral at the end of this year's peace march to Potocari to bury the recently recovered remains of 613 victims of the Srebrenica massacre
The walkers come marching resolutely down the dusty track from the forests, seven and a half thousand of them in bright hiking gear and T-shirts. They are on their way to Srebrenica, an old silver town set in a bowl of rolling, wooded hills. They call themselves the Mars Mira – the peace march – but this is no bunch of weekend revolutionaries.
There are women, and girls and boys too young to remember the war, but the real heroes of the Mars Mira are the surviving men of Srebrenica, sweaty in the 100-degree heat, clutching the plastic water bottles they wished they had 16 years ago.
They set off three days and almost 70 miles ago from the village of Nezuk in northern Bosnia and you can only imagine what memories assail them as they walked through those woods. For the Mars Mira follows (in reverse) the route of Srebrenica’s Death March – the Put Smrti – along which these men battled for five days, after their town finally fell to the Serbs on July 11, 1995.
Srebrenica’s name is now synonymous with the worst single act of genocide in Europe since the Nazi Holocaust, when more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men were murdered by the Serbs; the actual number is still uncertain, but more than 5,000 bodies have been found so far and thousands more are still missing.
But less well known is the extraordinary story of the men who tried to escape the massacre. For although 2,000 wounded and old men did give themselves up and were almost immediately killed, the able-bodied men refused to surrender.
Instead, they decided to fight their way out. With just a few hundred weapons, and weak from more than three years of being under siege, they fought for five days over densely wooded hills and in gruelling heat. They faced artillery barrages, ambushes and hallucinogenic gas shells, until they finally reached the safety of Bosnian government territory, nearly 70 miles away.
Of the 15,000 men who set off back then, only 3,500 made it through Serb lines. I watched them arrive, an army of ragged ghosts searching for their families in the refugee camp by the UN Tuzla airbase, in July 1995. The rest were either captured and killed or trapped in the woods, some for up to nine months, after Srebrenica fell.
Huso Bektic was one of those ghosts. Now he’s a taxi driver living with his wife Ramisa in Chatham, Kent, but 16 years ago he was one of the desperate few who managed to reach free Bosnian territory alive.
‘For six days, from Srebrenica to Tuzla, the Serbs shot at me,’ says Bektic.
‘Whoever they could kill, they killed. They killed my father. We weren’t in the same part of the column and I lost him in the woods.’
Until now, Bektic has never spoken publicly about his ordeal. In his mid-forties, with a comfortable paunch, he hardly looks as if he is a survivor of what an SAS officer serving in Bosnia at the time told me was ‘the greatest act of military heroism in Europe since World War II’.
The remains (that have so far been found) of the bodies of those who died after Srebrenica fell have all been identified by Bosnia’s national DNA programme – their white tombstones carpet Srebrenica’s vast Memorial Cemetery, opposite the old UN base in Potocari.
Bektic’s father was found and buried here two years ago. Every year those bodies dug up, pieced together and identified are buried in a mass funeral at the Memorial Cemetery on the anniversary of Srebrenica’s fall.
As the peace march sweeps into the cemetery, past a Bosnian army guard of honour and cheering civilians, 613 green shrouded coffins lie waiting for the annual mass funeral the following day. There are so many graves, so white and shiny, that the hillside looks like a World War I cemetery. Bektic is trying to show me his father’s tombstone, but they all look the same.
‘I was here only yesterday…’ he says, searching the white marble ranks. Then he finds him. Bektic’s father’s dates are 1940-1995, the same death year as every other body in this cemetery.
Even now Bektic can hardly bear to remember the Death March.
‘It was all just horrific. I had terrible déjà vu when I walked through the woods last year.’
Yet every year he drives his taxi from Chatham to Srebrenica for the memorial service. Now he’s staying with his widowed mother. She was deported by the Serbs in 1995 but is now back living in their old family house in the village of Suceska, in the wooded hills above Srebrenica.
‘I helped rebuild the house,’ he says. ‘The Serbs burned it down after we left.’
The idea for the Mars Mira came from Dr Ilijaz  Pilav, a Srebrenica doctor who ran the field hospital on the Death March.
‘I wanted to do something to remember my friends and relations who died on the Death Road,’ he says. This year is particularly poignant after the arrest in June of General Ratko Mladic for war crimes.
At the front walks Mujo Gojinovic, a former Bosnian soldier, bearing aloft a banner with the legend: ‘Ejub Golic. Participant. The Breakout ’95.’
‘Golic was my commander. Thousands survived thanks to him,’ says Mujo. Golic, who brought up the rear of the column, rallying the civilians, is regarded as the great hero of the Death March.
‘We survivors carry this banner every year,’ he adds. ‘We often find bones in the wood on the way, or things people dropped, like photographs.’
Mevludin Oric’s story is more remarkable still, for he should now be lying in that cemetery.
Oric, 42, has already testified in war crimes trials at The Hague – and is likely to be a key witness in the genocide case against General Mladic.
During the war, he  was a junior Special Forces officer and courier, with ten men under his command, and only four guns between them. Now he’s a builder, when he gets the work. Captured by the Serbs two days into the Death March, Oric miraculously survived a brutal mass execution by pretending to be dead.
As the walkers drum past us, below them lies a field. In the middle of the field stands a little orange house where, as Serbs overran the town, Srebrenica’s military commanders debated what they should do.
‘This is Susnjari, where the column started from,’ says Oric. As the Serbs began to overrun Srebrenica on the afternoon of July 11, he explains, the word was passed through the enclave that all the men who did not want to surrender should come up to this field.
It was dark by the time Oric arrived.
‘The field was full of men and boys, 15,000 of us. It looked like a football stadium,’ he says.
‘Everyone was desperate for the leaders to tell them what to do.’

Oric was called into the house.
‘They asked me to lead the column,’ he says. ‘Because I was a courier, I knew all the secret tracks. I said no. I told them that to lead 15,000 men through that territory was certain death.’
The decision was finally made to head to Tuzla, and the column set off at 12.30am on July 12. At the front was a team of four scouts, to clear the minefields and check for ambushes, followed by senior commanders and the field hospital.
‘We went in single file,’ recalls Bektic. ‘But there were a lot of us.’
The column was more than ten miles long, and the back had yet to leave three hours after the front had set off. Of the 15,000 men, a third were civilians and the rest were soldiers, strung between them, although their military discipline was virtually the only weapon they had.
‘Soldiers!’ laughs Pilav. ‘They didn’t have any weapons. We only had one RPG on the entire column.’
From horizon to horizon, a line of scrawny men toiled under the trees. Oric was at the back with Commander Golic, and Oric’s 14-year-old nephew, Mirsa.
‘He was like a son to me,’ says Oric. ‘I taught him to shoot.’
At first the fighting front made very good time over the steep and wooded hills: 18 miles in the first six hours. The Serbs had been taken by surprise by the exodus. But at dawn the front reached its first big obstacle, the main Tarmac road encircling the enclave.
Dr Pilav and the fighting front started crossing at about 6am. They were spotted by Serb scouts and orders came down from General Mladic to reinforce the main road with tanks, anti-aircraft guns, and soldiers strung out every 15 yards. At 10am the Bosnian Serb army started shelling the woods where the rest of the column was still trudging along.
‘The single file broke as soon as the shelling started,’ says Bektic. ‘The shells fell everywhere. They weren’t just shelling us, but poisoning us. They fired shells filled with hallucinogenic gas. I was completely dazed. I’ve no idea how I survived.’
Hundreds of terrified civilians fled down onto the road where they were swiftly rounded up. In the confusion, Oric lost sight of his father and his nephew.
‘I never saw either of them again,’ he says.
The woods were littered with dead bodies and the possessions of those who had either died or fled in terror – rucksacks, books, photographs. Once the artillery stopped, the Serb infantry advanced into the woods: they infiltrated the column in civilian clothes, to lure the survivors to ambushes; they dressed in uniforms they’d taken from the UN soldiers and offered the terrified refugees the chance to surrender; and they booby-trapped the paths the refugees had to take.
‘They would even mine beehives in case we tried to get the honey,’ says Oric.
‘I stopped one man blowing us all up. The Chetniks (Serb fighters) scattered those little mines we call pate tins, which jump up and explode at knee height. They set trip wires, which would blow up across your chest. Those killed 15 men or more.’
Many of the refugees were shot on sight. The Serbs forced one refugee to call his brother and friends down from the woods, saying it was safe. An eye-witness described how 40 or so men were then tied up with wire and machine-gunned.
By now the column was split: Dr Pilav and the fighting front had managed to cross the road, but thousands were  still stuck on the Srebrenica side. Over the next 24 hours, between 5,000 and 6,000 men are estimated to have been captured in the woods. All were taken away and killed – some were machine gunned in fields, while the Serbs herded others into school gyms before throwing in hand grenades.
Oric, by this point unarmed and wearing civilian clothes, was captured the next afternoon, along with his cousin Haris and a dozen others: they were still trying to find a way to cross the road. They were walking through the woods when, says Oric,
‘Suddenly I felt a gun at my back. None of us had weapons. I’d been at school with one of the Serbs who stopped us.’
Oric, Haris and the others were taken to a police station and forced to spend the night sitting upright in a bus, with their hands behind their heads.
‘There were about 500 people in several buses,’ he says. ‘All men in civilian clothes.’
Throughout the night, the Serbs would call people off by name.
‘The guy would be taken away. We’d hear the shots and that’s the last we’d see of him,’ says Oric.
On the morning of the 14th, the buses were then driven to a school gym at a place called Orahovac.
‘There must have been about 2,000 of us in the gym,’ says Oric. ‘Buses and trucks kept coming full of people. Then Mladic came. He didn’t say a word. He just looked round the gym and laughed.’
After Mladic had gone, the guards told the prisoners they were being taken to a prisoner exchange. At the door they were given blindfolds. Then they were taken off in trucks in groups of ten or so at a time; after five minutes, the trucks would come back empty.
‘The place they told us they were taking us to was an hour and a half away,’ says Oric, ‘so I realised that they were killing us.’
He was on the sixth truckload, with his cousin.
‘Haris was a big guy,’ says Oric, ‘but I held his hand. When we left the truck I peeped through my blindfold and I could see it was just a field. Haris said, “They’re going to kill us,” but I said, “No they’re not.” Then they got out machine-guns and shot us all.’
Oric was crushed beneath Haris. ‘He shook for three or four seconds, then that was it. Then I realised I hadn’t been hit.’
Oric lay beneath Haris until it was dark. Hundreds more men were taken to the field and shot.
‘I was terrified I’d be hit by a stray bullet. Then they went round finishing off the wounded. The Chetnik shot the guy next to me, I just played dead. I could hear bulldozers digging our grave.’
Finally Oric passed out. When he woke up it was dark.
‘I got up and took my blindfold off. I was stunned,  just seeing a field of dead bodies. I started to scream. Then another man got up and asked if I was hurt.  I thought he was a ghost.’
The two men quickly left and started walking through the woods. It took them another week before they finally managed to cross the lines into Bosnian territory.
For Dr Pilav, Bektic and the others, the ordeal continued. For four more days they trekked through the woods, in single file, travelling by night, resting by day; their numbers constantly whittled down by ambushes and artillery barrages. Commander Golic had taken over the column, but they still had no food and very little water.
So many more would have died, but for three strokes of luck. On the evening of Friday 14, they overheard the Serbs planning an ambush. So when Serb Special Forces captain Zoran Jankovic tried to sneak into the column in civilian clothes, the Bosniaks were waiting.
They captured Jankovic; with him as a hostage, they had some leverage. But they were still down to their last 500 bullets; then in fierce fighting, they captured a Serb arms dump, including an anti-aircraft gun.
Using Jankovic’s walkie-talkie, Golic had finally managed to contact Srebrenica’s commander-in-chief, Naser Oric, in Tuzla. They arranged to break through the Serb lines at a village called Baljkovica, and Oric promised to put together a group of volunteers to punch through from the other side.
It was late afternoon when Golic and the front arrived at the woods above the Serb front line.
‘We could see Bosnian territory. We could also see the Serbs fortifying their line,’ says Pilav. ‘It was a fortress: trenches, mines. A double front line facing towards us.’
The situation looked hopeless. Suddenly the heavens opened with hailstones the size of walnuts and sheets of rain. It was the perfect cover. Golic struck. The Bosnians took four tanks before the Serbs knew what had hit them and turned them on the Serbs. ‘We had the tanks for 30 minutes before the Serbs destroyed them,’ says Pilav.
The fighting continued hard through the night. It was at 6am that relief finally came, when Oric arrived with his volunteers. The Serbs were now on the backfoot, fighting on two fronts.
It was 1.30pm on July 16 that the column finally broke through to Bosnian territory. The refugees met Naser Oric on the other side but it wasn’t over.
For hours, Naser Oric and the fighters on Dr Pilav’s side fought to keep the corridor open, as the desperate escapees fled through.
‘It was like being reborn,’ says Bektic. ‘I was just numb,’ adds Pilav. ‘I kept thinking about all my family and friends who had died.’
The corridor finally collapsed at 6pm. Only 3,500 of them had made it through. Hundreds had died in the battle for the corridor, and up to a thousand men were still trapped in the Serb-held woods on the other side. Pilav, manning his hospital, was one of the last through.
Tragically, Commander Golic, who saved so many lives, was killed in the battle for the tanks. His men kept his death secret in order to keep up morale, burying him in the dirt with their knives. He was reburied in Potocari cemetery last year.
Each year, the woods yield up more bodies. This year, as we watched, 613 more were buried; the roll call of their names took over 45 minutes.
The survivors of Srebrenica may be scattered all over the world, but more than 30,000 people came to the mass funeral this year and the survivors and their sons carried the coffins shoulder high to their graves. General Mladic may have tried to annihilate the men of Srebrenica, but he failed.
The town lives on.

Mythological world of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Lampir: in Bosnia vampires are called lampir, lapir, lampijer, vukodlak or vukozlačina. It was believed that if a cat crosses over a deceased man that he will become a lampir. Of course the effect would be cancelled out if the cat returns the same way it came. Because people were afraid that this would happen they would place a knife on dead man's chest or they would spike a knife next to his head. There was also a custom where people would place a bowl of wheat or only three grains of wheat where the dead person was lying before he was buried, after the burial the wheat was given to a pauper. There were a lot of lampiers but the most famous ones were Lampir Meho from Glamoč, Pajo Tomić and a certain Korkut from Nevesinje.
 Bosnian witches were able to call forth the deadly power of the vukodlak by going to a graveyard and repeating the formula: "Adali Ada to protect me" and then they would sit next to a grave keeping their eyes closed, and they would grab a handful of dirt and they would take it home. They would hold on to that dirt until one of their enemies would die and they would plant the dirt under the threshold of his house while the deceased is carried out of it. They did this because they wanted someone else dead from that household.

Jan 16, 2012


Sadeta was dressed in slightly shabby, modest blouse and skirt. She was a friend of the landlord we were staying with, and he contacted her after I gave a short introduction about Islam and dreaming on Bosnian Federation morning television. Sadeta was very friendly, with a smiling, happy face and very good eye contact. She seemed a happy and very genuine person, did not ask for money although I later pressed her to take a small amount to cover her bus fare in Sarajevo. She said she did Istikhara without charging money but accepted gifts of money. An imam who had told her she had a gift from Allah told her to do Istikhara from
others and gave her two books to work with: a guide to Qur'anic healing and one for Istikhara practice.
In dreams Sadeta had been called, arguably similarly to shamanic dream calling examples, to be a Qur'anic and Istikhara dream healer. She said:
-I dreamed, dreamed a lot and I didn't know the meaning „why“ I had been dreaming. Therefore I went to visit one well-educated imam whom I told about my dreams.
Sadeta practiced two types of Islamic healing, saying specific prayers from the Qur'an for conditions such as exam nerves, as the interview took place during the exam season:

- It depends, case from case, as to what is needed. This doesn't mean a medical curing but curing with the Qur'an. In this book (giving specific guidance concerning reading specific Qur'anic verses for specific medical conditions) I usually find what is needed and then I take the Qur'an and pray with the Qur'an. Look at this book, you can see which prayers are appropriate for particular illnesses. For example, nowadays I am very busy because many young people are preparing for their exams, and they might be very nervous and lacking in confidence (Qur'anic healing) something when you can't drink any pill to calm you, otherwise you would be sleepy and so on. Ehh, and now, I do pray for them to lose their nervousness, to liberate themselves, and success, to pass the exams. However, it can't help everybody, only for those who believe that I have such a capacity to help. Look at the books, they are small; I find later in Qur'an „the number“ referred to in the book and „how many times“ it is necessary to pray the particular prayer. Afterwards I'll take the Qur'an and do the prayer.

Belief in the efficacy of the healer, Sadeta, and the Islamic faith are both apparently indispensable requirements for successful healing to take place. The healing is done from Allah, and Sadeta is a vehicle for this form of divine grace. She prayed for her clients on certain days and times of her own choosing:
I do it alone. And why? Because when you pray to Allah, I could pray all day but God couldn't receive my prayers. Therefore, I ask God, between akšam and jacija. Akšam (fourth daily prayer) is now about 8:30 PM and Jacija (fifth daily prayer) about 10:30 PM, and between the two prayers I do remember the complete name of the one I am praying for and then the particular prayer. And again the following morning when I do pray Sabah (first morning prayer); I do it again because I don't know whether God wants to receive my prayers or not. It isn't like doing shopping when you take a loaf of bread and the work is done. Therefore I usually repeat everything two or three times to make sure that God will help, but I can't guarantee 100 percent success. But I have success, thanks to Allah. I do not advertise myself anywhere, neither in newspapers nor on radio as many others do. Nothing like this. People just come and I am glad that God helps and still I have a lot of work to do.
Sadeta also does Istihara using another little book given her by the imam (Hodza). Sadeta describes doing Istikhara:
-Eeh, to pray Istikhara, I have another book, look. Do you know how to pray Istikhara? You have to wake up during the night, about 1:00 AM and you pray a „nonobligatory“ prayer, nonobligatory because we (Muslims) have to pray times a day, but you pray Istikhara. When I do pray the prayer, I remember the person I am praying for and subsequently I go to sleep. Morcover, I do remember the prayer and the person I prayed for again while I am already lying in my bed. And then I do dream, but the dream has to be interpreted later on.
Sadeta usually dreams after undertaking her prayer practice:
-Yes, I usually have a dream. It might happen that I don't have one, but it's rare. Sometimes, the meaning of a dream is rather unclear and has to be interpreted. For example, „a house“: the nice house with flowers around might symbolize organizing the mevlud (special prayer honoring the birth of the Prophet Muhammed or for a special celebratory occasion) prayer at home; for somebody without success or with problems, so the message of the dream might be for example to slaughter kurban (sacrifical ram/sheep) and to give food to people. Or sometimes I do dream and the interpretation is that I have to pray the sura „Yusuf“, ehh, Yusuf suffered a lot in his life-so if someone suffers like Yusuf than I do pray the sure „Yusuf“, but  there is written (in the book) how many times I have to pray the sura.
Sadeta gives examples of the Istikhara practice:
Eeh, one young woman asked me for Istikhara, she gave me her name and surname. I dreamed about a house (she didn't tell me where she lives), I came (in the dream) in front of a house. I see a house with two entrances. When I've entered the house I see a small, wild garden and there were lambs and sheep. While I was in the garden I heard a voice saying: „I am interested in the young woman, I want to marry her, she will have much happiness in her life.“ When I told her about the dream, she said that her boyfriend has the some house. So, it means their fate is to stay together. Moreover, sheep and lambs are usually slaughtered during such an occasion like a marriage; and also wool makes life easy so everything was beautiful in the dream.
Sometimes the interpretation of a dream might be sorcery. One woman had a flat in Sarajevo and she bought a door, but she couldn't place it properly; it was impossible. Therefore, I did pray Istikhara for her; I dreamed. It's very bad when you dream like this, that in front of the door someone hooked an ox. And now, I see an ox clearly, I see his meat is rotting, it isn't good. So, when I dreamed about the rotting ox, the dream itself was terrible, I told her-you have to dig up the threshold and the doorframe, there has to be sihir (sorcery). Moreover, I had to pray various prayers against the evil powers for her to protect herself. I got a special prayer from one hafiz (educated Muslim who knows the Qur'an by heart) and it needs to be prayed thirty-seven times. When the woman had dug up the threshold around the door, she found everything that you can imagine (sorcery items).
Sadeta started to dream in 1990, her dream guide being a young handsome man dressed in white. She does not know him but thinks he may be a former, now deceased, shadida (martyr):
-I started to dream in 1990 in the flat that I now live in. I have lived in about five flats during my life, before, during and after the war; in one flat I lived for more than eighteen years, but I do Istikhara dreaming only in this one flat. No one else has dreamt Istikhara in the flat.
I've dreamed about a young man aged twenty-five to thirty, very nice, in a white shirt, and he tells me what I have to do, to help people, to heal people. And this has been since the very beginning. What is interesting is that I do dream only in the kitchen, not in other rooms. It's unbelievable but during the war, everything was damaged roundabout, except for my flat where even the windows stayed untouched. I couldn't believe it. What is there, in the flat, I don't know. I didn't pray Istikhara before; it happened when I told other people about my dreams. They explained to me that I could have the capacity for dreaming Istikhara and healing.

Jan 11, 2012

Evil eye

In the past, it was believed that all the living beings, especially the young and beautiful ones, could be bewitched by the look of a bad eye. Even mothers should not caress their babies for fear of casting a spell on them. For that reason, they used to put amulets on the child as soon as it was born or they blackened their forehead

Another source of physical and mental disequilibrium and pain is the evil eye. This is a specific type of spell which in most cases is believed to be unpremeditated. Beliefs about the evil eye are well know and documented throughout the whole of southern and southeastern Europe and „the Mediterranean area“. Such beliefs were also present in Dolina, even if informants were initially reluctant to talk about them. Although most of my material was collected in rural Bosnia, I also consulted informants in Sarajevo about popular beliefs there and discovered that belief in the evil eye and knowledge about different protective measures are also found among Sarajevans. The more educated people in Sarajevo dismiss such ideas as superstition, however
This villagers use several different terms for „evil eye“, the most common being grdne oči (ugly eyes); others are urokljive oči (bewitching eyes) or pogane oči (filthy or evil eyes). I was told that you cannot know if someone has an evil eye or not, and even the possessor does not know. A person may not know s/he has been bewitched by evil eye until s/he gets ill with a splitting headache and fever.
It someone looks at another person and say that he or she is beautiful without saying mašalah, the first person may unintentionally cast a spell on the second person. Mašalah  expreses wonder at and pleasure in what a person sees. In the original Arabic it means something like „what Allah wants will be“ (that is, everything is dependent on God's will). Beautiful girls and babies thought to be particularly vulnerable.
In the Bosnian village of Dolina, I did not see evil eye accusations as a means of enforcing social control and conformity. Instead, the concern was with the person who was at risk from the evil eye, and with this person's power to attract another person's attention because of her beauty rather than with accusing someone of having „bewitching eyes“ (since that person had probably cast the evil eye unintentionally). I have no information about actual people accused of having cast the evil eye, but was repeatedly told that there was no way of knowing who had. This is reflected among other things in the fact that the verb for casting spells, ureći, was never used actively in the third person to describe the agency, but only passively to describe the person who had been the victim of the evil eye, as in „the child has been cast spells on“ (dijete je ureknuto). The people most concerned about such spells are those closest to the person or object believed vulnerable to the evil eye, such as the mother of a newborn baby. I suggest that beliefs about evil eye are primarily an expression of one' own fear of losing someone or something which one highly desires and which is therefore very precious. But because it is highly desired, the person who has it knows that others might desire it too.
In Bosnia allusion was never made to the envy (or jealousy) of the potential possessor of the evil eye (although accusations of jealousy are often made to explain hostile and uncooperative behavior in other contexts), and envy was not seen as problematic as it was common and assumed from the knowledge and experience of one's own feelings.

Formula against the evil eye:

The "urok" sits on the treshold,
his mate under the treshold.
The "urok" has three eyes:
one eye is of water,
the second eye is of fire,
the third eye us charmed.
 The water eye burst
and put out the fiery one
and took the charmed one
to the high mountains
to the broad plains.
The sea has no bridge,
nor a dog horns,
nor the palm (of the hand) hair
nor is here any spell on my -name-.

Mythological world of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Jinn or Dzini: demonic creatures that have an aberrant form, which were created out of a flame. The Bosnian people describe the Jinn as small creatures with one eye and a tail. Each Jinn is limping. Even though they can take various human or animal forms they prefer to appear to humans in a form of a dark man (dark silhouette) whose face can never be seen. They also like to show themselves in a form of a black dog, a cat or a snake. It is believed that the Jinn are faithful servants but also masters of witches and wizards. When the Jinn want to seduce and subject someone to them, they dance a fiery circle and call out the name of the one they want. This usually happens when that person is sleeping. Jinn can dance a circle during the day but at that time in a whirlwind, that is why people avoid whirlwinds to this day. It is believed that as soon as the human utters: "In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful" and blows towards the whirlwind, that the whirlwind will disappear.
A special group of Jinn by the name Al-Karisi attack women who have recently given birth, and babies in the first 40 days after the birth.


Mythological world of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bik Garonja (Black Bull): old Bosniaks believed that the Earth rests on the back of a giant black bull. When the bull moves his ear then an earthquake takes place somewhere in the world, and on the day when the bull shudders the whole world will come to an end (Judgement day or Kiyamet). The tumult that is heard during the earthquake is believed to be the bulls bellow.

Jan 9, 2012


The dead person, who we call evlija, possesses a special power which few possess; he sees and knows what you yourself do not realize. Because this is the way it is, is it not; some have the ability to see more than others.

The dervish orders have their own holy graves, belonging to men of religious learning believed to be evlija because of extraordinary powers to “see” or to perform “miracles” in their lifetimes as well as after. Many of them were sheikhs, leaders of a sufi sanctuary or tekija. In the largest tekija in the mountains not far from Dolina are buried all the sheikhs in the history of the tekija. They are believed to have extraordinary powers, and people will come there to pray for health and good fortune in the same way as they do at sehits`graves. But unlike the sehits`graves, which are accessible to everybody who wants to pray, the sheikhs´ graves can only be entered with special permission from a senior dervish.

Jan 8, 2012

Mythological world of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Faeries or Vile( Peri): Faeries are young beautiful women with long golden hair. They have supernatural beauty and a soothing voice. They live inside forests and around lakes, they fly around trees and they like to dance in circles on the green grass. During that occasion they usually sing one of their many songs whose words worn people about some danger ("Ne zovi oca imenom, Ne udaraj konja povodcem, Ne tari nogu od nogu, Ne čini sebi sihira"). There's a belief amongst the people that a child who feeds a fairy with his milk will become a great hero, this is best illustrated by the legend of Mujo Hrnjica.
If people hurt the fairy in any way, it will immediately take revenge by making the human psychologically disturbed. Fairies were afraid of mothers, especially in the past. According to a Turkish folklore which found its place amongst the Bosnian people, in the past humans stole the first child of a fairy and ever since then the fairies seek revenge by stealing human children or by exchanging a human child for its own. For this reason Bosnian women would place a metal object, most often a spoon, near baby's feet inside the crib, when they had to leave the house or when they had to do some chores.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina the most famous fairies are Bosanska vila, Gorska vila, and the queen fairy Zlatna. It was believed that Zlatna was the mistress of the forest and the water. Legend has it that every night, Zlatna accompanied by other fairies, went to the river to take a bath and after that they would dance and sing throughout the night on a nearby hillside. Bosnians believe that only those of pure spirit and a clear heart can see fairies in their sleep.
Besides female fairies it is believed that there are male fairies amongst these mythological creatures. The most famous male fairy is Ušušur. According to a legend from Doboj, Ušušur fell in love with a girl, who married another man. Desperate and furious, Ušušur used his magical powers to drown the girl in a river. Comprehending the gravity of his actions, he threw himself in the river after the girl but he couldn't drown himself because he was immortal. Because of this incident he decided to punish himself and he chained himself to the bottom of the river, which became his home. Ušušur is described by the people as green man, ragged and covered in moss.

Jan 7, 2012

Mythological world of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Dragons (Zmajevi): in the past Bosniaks believed in dragons, they described them as giant snakes with wings that were able to live both in the sky and on the land. It can be concluded from the folklore that dragons were males, there was no mention of a female dragon, and the dragons fulfilled their desire for offspring with human woman and animals, especially cows. According to folklore if a dragon was attracted to a woman, he would come to her room at night or wait for her somewhere outside, on a meadow, and he would use his magical powers to put her in a trance like state. After the intercourse the dragon would fly away and the woman wouldn't have any recollection of the incident.
Fatima K. from Bosanski Novi claimed that she gave birth to a dragon in 1974: "I gave birth inside the house, sometime after midnight, after half an hour of painful labour, out came a child in a white placenta and after a few moments it disappeared?!" She claimed that she never saw the child again and therefore she concluded that she didn't give birth to a "Snijet" but to a dragon. Another confirmation to this claim is that her breasts were full of milk in the evening, but when she woke up in the morning they were all drained. This occurred on a daily basis for a couple of months. Being afraid she told this to her neighbour, an old lady, who in turn told her that it was the dragon-child that came each night to feed himself with her breast milk. After some time the night visits ceased. 

Jan 6, 2012

Mythological world of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The following excerpt is taken from one of her field reports: "In Bosnia there was, I found, plenty of belief in vampires. Here they are called "lampir" and or "vukodlak" (lit.: wolfs hair).

The incarnation of the vampire in Bosnia is the lampir, which is thought primarily to be the harbinger of epidemics. With no scientific understanding of the reasons or cures for deadly contagious diseases, the first to fall ill and perish is assumed to be at fault. The lampir crawls from its grave as a hideously rotting and disease-ridden corpse for the sole purpose of infecting and bringing grief to those who subsequently succumb and die of disease. It was reported that after the Austrians gained control of Bosnia from the Ottoman Empire in 1878 that the practice of exhuming and burning the corpses of suspected lampirs was widespread in the region – a practice the new regime took a decidedly dim view of.

Jan 5, 2012

Mythological world of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Witch (or Naletnica, Sihirbazica): According to a Bosniaks belief girls become witches if they wish to cause someone harm, for example, to get revenge on her neighbour, her neighbour's cattle or children. Witches drink children's blood and they take away the milk from cows. While a Mora stops being a Mora as soon as she gets married, the same thing does not apply to witches. They don't lose their title after marriage because they stepped on the Holy Qur'an and they gave their souls to Iblis.
The witch can turn into a large butterfly and enter any house she wants especially the one that has small children in it. When you notice such a butterfly in your house, you must catch it and burn one of its wings on a candle uttering: "Come back tomorrow, I will give you salt" and then let the butterfly out of your house. It is believed that the first woman that comes to that house to ask for some salt is a witch. If she is then told that she visited this house during the night in a form of a butterfly and that she is a witch it is believed that she looses all her demonic powers.

Mora (Nightmare): Bosniaks believe that a Mora is a discarded or cheated girl which uses this form to get back at her boyfriend. In her invisible form she comes every night around midnight and suffocates the young man by sitting on his chest. The young man feels a large pressure on his chest, he sweats and has nightmares. He awakes in the morning pale and feels powerless. It is believed that every girl can turn into a Mora if she surrenders her soul to Iblis.
How does one catch a girl-Mora? From the mosque one must bring a green belt used for tying down a deceased to the stretcher during a funeral. The one who is attacked by a Mora must go to bed holding the green belt in his right hand. He mustn't fall asleep but only keep his eyes closed. Around midnight the Mora will appear and sit on his chest. At that moment the man needs to put the belt on himself and the Mora will become visible to the human eye. Caught in a trap the Mora will be scared and she will start to beg the man not to reveal her secret in return she must swear not to be a Mora any longer. That way she will lose her invisibility power and she will become a normal girl once again.

Tvora: An evil spirit of diseases which attacks the patient and burdens his psyche with various nightmares and horrible appearances.

Činilica: An evil spirit that caused a lot of anxiety and fear in the patient's soul, so that the patient thought that all the evil of the spiritual world has entered him.

Otrovnica: An evil spirit that would poison the patient's blood until he would finally die exhausted.

Krvopilica: An evil spirit that would drink the patient's blood all night until it would completely drain the patient of his power.

Mraza: An evil spirit of hatred and disputes, he took away love and unity from people, and he made them fight one another.

Prikaze: Are evil spirits that appear to people only at night in various forms, mostly as cats, rabbits, goats, dogs. It is believed that whoever sees a Prikaza he will get seriously ill or die in a short time.

Kudretfenjeri: It is believed that these are the ghosts of dead Muslim soldiers who usually appear in the form of mysterious lights at abandoned cemeteries, ruins of old houses or military fortresses and even sometimes forests. It is believed that these soldiers were buried in Christian cemeteries and now they are wondering in search of a Muslim cemetery.

Meknjača or Plačo: is the name of a mysterious bird that has never been seen but has been heard usually during eve time or at night. Its call can be compared to a child crying. The folk believe that it is a soul of a deceased child that has turned into a bird and that it is only heard when someone is about to die. It is also called drekavac.

Karanđoloz: the belief about this mythological creature was brought over to Bosnia by the Ottoman Empire. Karanđoloz as it is believed can be found at night on lonely intersections, when it surprises a traveller by jumping on his back and riding him like a horse. Besides being very heavy, Karanđoloz has an awful smell and reeks, and in that way deepens the traveller's misery and suffering. If the Karanđoloz asks the traveller "Am I heavy?" the answer mustn't be affirmative or this being of the night will become even heavier. The Karanđoloz won't stop torturing the man until dawn; when the roosters call is heard in the morning the demonic being will disappear. People used to protect themselves against the being by going around the house or a stable in circles holding a walnut in each hand and clapping one against the other they uttered: "Tučem kućnog dušmanina, što berićet odnosi a musibet donosi!". The famous Bosnian writer Mehmed Meša Selimović wrote about Karanđoloz.